How to Deal with Isolation in Recovery

Humans are naturally social animals; they rely on each other for basic survival. The lack of social connections is emotionally discomforting, but it can also have a significant impact on your physical and mental health. Unfortunately, one of the most difficult things for those who are in recovery after completing drug or alcohol rehab is building a new social network.17Making social connections is a daunting process when you are in recovery and trying to rebuild your relationships with friends and family and try to find the best support group for you. It is important to understand that sober living does not mean you must live a life of loneliness. In fact, it is crucial for those in recovery to take the necessary steps to avoid the feelings of isolation, because those who overcome an addiction are often at risk of relapse as a result of loneliness. The following tips will provide ideas on how to deal with the feelings of loneliness during recovery.

Is there a Difference Between Loneliness and Being Alone?

First and foremost, it is important to understand that everyone occasionally experiences loneliness; however, even occasional loneliness can cause discomfort. It is also possible to experience feelings of loneliness when you are surrounded by a lot of people. But, it is essential to understand the difference between being alone and having feelings of loneliness. It is possible to feel happiness and contentment even without spending time with other people; this means you enjoy being alone. However, those who spend a lot of time with other people, yet still feel a sense of emptiness and isolation means they are experiencing a lack of connectedness to others, instead of feeling the absence of people. If you struggle to feel a social connection even when you are actively involved in group settings, it can lead to isolation, because you may start to avoid socializing just to avoid the feelings of loneliness.

A Common Trigger

Unfortunately, loneliness is one of the most common reasons for addiction relapses, and it can lead to social isolation, guilt, depression and anxiety. It is imperative to make social connections throughout your recovery, especially during the early stages. It is critical for your recovery that you do not ignore your feelings of loneliness because it can lead you down the road to relapse. A few things you can do to overcome loneliness as well as strengthen your recovery include:

  • Talk to someone- whether you choose to talk to a friend, family member, a therapist or your sponsor, it is important to talk about your feelings.
  • Volunteer- volunteering is a great way to feel more socially connected as well as contribute to your community. Whether you choose to volunteer at a retirement center or an animal shelter, making others feel good will also help you feel good about yourself.
  • Join a support group- it may take some time to find a support group that suits you, but it is crucial for your recovery that you attend support groups. Attending groups will allow you to be around other people who have been in the same situation as you; it is a great reminder that you are not alone in recovery.
  • Take a class- whether you enjoy cooking, sculpting or exercising, taking a class or joining a club is an excellent way to make new social connections.

Don’t fear loneliness; it is merely a bump while on your road to recovery that you can successfully navigate. Understand that loneliness is normal, so it is important not to feel bad or that you are being punished. It may be a struggle, but you can find the right way to deal with your loneliness and not relapse.

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